I started writing content for my first startup in 2013 because we did not have the budget to hire a freelancer. At that point, I didn’t know that I would start my second innings as a freelancer.
After the startup failure, I realized that I could write valuable content and have potential as a marketer. Thus started my journey as a content marketing freelancer.
The journey helped me turn into an entrepreneur, content marketing expert, and a personal finance blogger.
When I reflect back, I feel that the first step that I took to be a freelancer was a milestone step, a transforming one.
Freelancing is now a mainstream activity, a starting point of your journey to financial freedom. It requires a much higher degree of passion, dedication, and skill to succeed as a freelancer.
Today, freelancing isn’t considered as an odd job required for survival. More people are moving towards freelance work and joining the bandwagon as Gig, Alternative worker or Freelancer.
A 2018 study conducted by an independent research firm and commissioned in partnership by Upwork and Freelancers Union on freelancing in America validates the same. Study showed that 56.7 Million US people worked as freelancers in 2018.
9 Steps on How to Start Freelancing in 2021
I can help you get started with freelancing.
You just need to start believing in yourself and read this article to master the art of freelancing in steps.
Step 1 – Find your Niche & Service
The process has two parts. First, introspecting your knowledge & interest and second validating the market for the activity you intend to carry out. Because no market means no audience resulting in no money.
You can start by asking yourself
- What topics are you really good at and have domain knowledge
- What do you read about most in free time
- What are the hobbies that excite you most and remained with you for a long time
- What are the topics that make you an expert amongst friends
- What are your professional expertise
It can be anything, the more specific you are the more concentrated the niche will be.
For example, you frequently assist your friends in relationship matters. But that is a very wide topic, on drilling deeper you realize that on most of the occasion the advice was regarding dating.
That is a good niche as a “relationship coach for dating”. On digging a little deeper, you find that most of them were young women compared to older women or men.
Now that is a real solid niche to be a “Relationship coach for younger women for dating”.
Likewise, you can figure out what niche you want to focus on. There could be more than one niche that evokes your interest.
In the next step, you need to validate the market.
You can use Google, LinkedIn, FB to check whether there are any relationship coach requirements as such. Are there any FB groups, blogs, articles, advisory services helping young women date successfully.
If you find any, then definitely there is a market to validate your idea.
You have to become invaluable in your niche for winning high-value clients.
Step 2 – Get Expertise in Your Work Area
After finalizing the area that genuinely interests you, the next step is to be an expert in that niche.
If you do not have adequate expertise then it’s better to get the expertise in your domain because that will help you become invaluable in the market.
I agree it takes time to be an expert in any domain. But you have the power of the internet to learn and master quickly.
The best thing to do is to start practicing whatever knowledge you have. The more time you spend on perfecting your skills the better you become in your work.
You can start taking simple work that you feel you can do with quality and deliver on time.
This will not only give you confidence, but you will learn also.
Once you’ve enough expertise, you can take the freelance work to the next level by taking better projects at better pricing.
Step 3 – Be Clear of What You Can Deliver
At this stage, one needs to figure out what exactly will be the deliverables. This can be as simple as 5 actionable tips for your client which will produce x results.
Do not be abstract in stating things that you would deliver. Give concrete details about your service and make sure the output can be precisely measured.
You must have clarity on exactly what you can deliver so that you could survive in the long run.
Step 4 – Identify Your Target Client
Take time to think about your ideal client whom you are going to serve because that will help you serve them better and also help you grow in the freelance business.
Identifying clients will help you get better results and define the target market.
This would mean understanding their business activities and the requirements in a better way.
I would recommend you check online communities, forums, and networking events to find out who your target clients are.
Step 5 – Choose a Platform to Get Your First Client
There are four types of freelancing work and depending on the type of skills and activity you undertake the freelancing platforms differ.
#1. Freelancing platform for online digital work
If you are a Digital nomad kind of freelancer who works independently then the platforms would be Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer. The project work includes skills like content creation, video editing, SEO and graphics designs.
Upwork is a freelancing platform that caters to the needs of global businesses. The platform connects freelancers and professionals with corporates and businesses to work remotely.
Freelancer is an online job marketplace for global freelancers. The platform provides a base to the employers and freelancers to collaborate for work projects and mutual benefit.
To get your first client on these platforms you need to register on the platform and create your profile.
Below is the stepwise process for creating an account and publishing your first Gig on Fiverr.
a). Signup to start creating your account
Fiverr allows you to signup using your Google, FB account. You can also use your email address to signup.
After you join you need to first create your profile where people can know about the work and skills that you can offer.
b). Become a seller
Click on “become a seller” to create your introductory and professional profile.
You need to fill up all the relevant personal and professional information that will add credentials and help your clients to know better about you.
Fiverr also asks you to link a few of your social accounts to boost up your credibility and showcase your skills.
Complete the account set up by providing your mobile number for account security and verifying it through OTP.
c). Start by creating a Gig.
Gigs are a product form of your skills that you are going to offer to clients on Fiverr.
Fiverr uses its own internal algorithm to rank gigs and then shows it to the clients.
Gigs ranking on the top are most visible and are likely to find most of the clients. Creating a solid gig is the easiest method to find clients.
So take time and effort to make your gig impactful. Start by creating an overview of your work.
Add pricing details and the scope within which you are going to work.
Later you need to set your work requirements, add a few images or videos of your original work as samples for clients to refer to.
Finally, you can review your gig and hit publish so that it is visible to the clients and available on the Fiverr platform.
#2. Freelancing platform for expert work
You are an expert but the work needs to be completed as a team then you are a Fly-in expert. To find an ideal client you should tap platforms like Twago, projektwerk.
#3. Freelancing platform for autonomous click work
If you freelance independently but the work is assigned and processed by the platform then you fall as Autonomous Clickworker. Platforms suited to find clients for you would be like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, Figure Eight.
#4. Freelancing platform for integrated work
But, if you work integrated with the client, where the platform assigns and processes the work then you will find clients on platforms like TaskRabbit, Uber, Ola, Mr. Right.
Other places where you can look to find clients are Facebook Groups and online forums.
Step 6 – Know the Right Price of Your Work
When you are starting out, it is hard to decide on the right price because you need to first start building credibility.
The best way is to take a clue from the freelance portals by looking at the prices quoted for the similar kind of work that you are going to do.
In the initial stages, you can charge your client a lower fee to build your portfolio or showcase your expertise. However, make sure that you let your clients know that the work is discounted and is not cheap.
The only place where you should work for very low or for free is where the client/ assignment can give you larger visibility to build your branding.
Step 7 – Learn How to Pitch to Clients
Your expertise does not matter if you can’t market yourself. Pitching for the freelance work is the first professional contact you make with the potential client.
You should not only be able to communicate your expertise effectively but also show them that you know and care about their businesses and have ideas for making it better.
Before pitching, take time to research about the potential client to understand his business better.
While pitching, ready yourself to explain the solutions which their business needs, that require your skills.
Here are the basics of pitching a potential client
- Start with showing the intent to provide value that will be helpful for their business for free.
- Showcase relevant work samples and past projects to demonstrate your expertise.
- Support your portfolio with testimonials.
- Use a video or visually appealing layout to pitch the proposal.
Step 8 – Get the Testimonials From Client to Convert New Clients
Whatever freelance activity you are involved in, the best way to find your next client is through recommendations from existing clients.
You should collect testimonials every time after good work because they show that you now have a track record and you are serious about your work and care for client satisfaction.
Ask for reviews from satisfied clients as this helps you learn and build confidence.
While pitching to a new client, you should mention the reviews to showcase credibility which will help you convert the client easily.
Step 9 – Make Valuable Connections
Getting regular clients is not that easy. Try to build a long term relationship with the existing client for future assignments.
Valuable connections with existing clients can help you get referrals for your next freelancing work.
My first freelance work helped me build a valuable connection with the client. On successful completion, the client referred my services to other startups and also to his friend circle who became my subsequent clients.
This way I grew in my freelance business by creating valuable connections.
You can start with any of the profitable freelance work from the list below.
Top Paying Freelancing Jobs for You
- Internet Security Specialist
- SEO Specialist
- Programming and software development
- Web Design and Development
- Content marketing/ writing
- Graphic Design
- Social Media Managers
- Video Editors
With a growing gig economy and flexible work cultures, freelancing is becoming a mainstream activity to support your financial needs.
Freelancing provides you an excellent opportunity to learn, sharpen your skills and paves the way for advancement. The activity can be a kick point to start your entrepreneurial journey if taken seriously.